When you arrive into downtown Vancouver, the view of the city is what first strikes you. A cement grey town full of glittering highrises, framed by the dramatic emerald green mountains (or snow capped mountains if you come in the winter) rising in the distance. Many can visit for a weekend and be satisfied with the variety of restaurants, breweries, and bike trails. It’s one of the most pedestrian friendly cities in the world, and always ranks highly among the most liveable cities in the world. But the real gem of living in Vancouver is the multitude of hikes right outside the city. In those mountains surrounding the city, you’ll find a whole host of outdoor activities, for all athletic levels. Here are a few of my favorite, easy to get to, day hikes around town.
This is my all time favorite hike close to Vancouver due to the exceptional views at the end. Completion of this 2.5-3 hour hike rewards you with epic views of Howe Sound on a clear day. Vancouver island can be seen in the distance, and you actually seem to be floating above the clouds. The hike is enjoyable, with a few long uphill slopes through the forest. To get here, drive to the Cypress mountain ski area parking lot. The trailhead starts just to the right of the restaurant, into the forest.
2. Dog Mountain or Mount Seymour
Less than a 40 minute drive from Vancouver is Dog Mountain. In only a short 1-2 hour hike, you can be rewarded with panoramic views of the city, and Mount Baker in Washington State. Though it can be very busy during the weekends in the summer months, Dog Mountain is an enjoyable, easy hike year round. Make sure you’re ready for mud if its raining!
Accessible in the same area, although much longer, is the Mount Seymour Summit hike. This trail will also reward you with sweeping views of the city, but takes about 5 hours round trip and is steeper. To reach both hikes, drive to the Seymour Mountain ski area, and head past the ski lodge. The trailhead for Dog Mountain starts on the left side, but if you prefer Mount Seymour, stay straight. Both trails are well marked.
3. Quarry Rock
This hike has many additional perks aside from the trek itself. It’s in close proximity to the town of Deep Cove, which is nestled on the banks of a picturesque bay surrounded by mountains. You can easily walk the streets of town to look in shops, stop for ice cream, or head to a restaurant for lunch. If you have more activity in mind, you can choose to picnic or kayak on the shores of the park surrounding the bay. As the area is well touristed, this hike can get busy on sunny days. Another perk is access via bus transportation to Deep Cove from downtown Vancouver along Route 211, which drops you off right at the park.
The Chief (or the official name is Stawamus Chief) has 3 dommed peaks you can climb to. The lowest dome takes about 3 hours and is suitable for dogs, although there is an area where you will have to carry up the pup. This was grueling for me as I was just getting in shape! To get here, you can park at the Sea to Sky Gondola, but parking at the lift is limited only to two hours. As an alternative, you can go down to the Shannon Falls overflow parking and stay as long as you like. The first section of stairs really tested me, but then it eases out about half way to more breaks between climbing. Right before the summit of the first peak, there is a section of ladders and chains where you need to pull yourself up. The prize at the end is the view.
Did I miss anything? What hikes do you like in the Vancouver, BC area?
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